That Riverside Whelan Exhibit

By John Hertz:  We’ve long known Michael Whelan was among our best.

He was first a Hugo Award finalist in 1979, for Best Pro Artist.  Next year he won that, and since then twelve times more, plus Nonfiction Book for his Works of Wonder (1988) and Original Artwork for The Summer Queen (1992), an unequaled 15 Hugos; 31 times a finalist.

He was Graphic Artist Guest of Honor at the 56th World Science Fiction Convention and (with Amano Yoshitaka) at the 65th.

He’s been voted Best Artist in 31 Locus Polls, most recently in 2016; 44 times a finalist.

He has 13 Chesleys (Ass’n of S-F Artists); 53 times a finalist.  More honors too.

Now the Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, California, is holding an exhibit of his work, as announced (with links) here.  It opened on February 11th and runs through May 25th.

That’s news.  In the wide wide world our graphic art is not well-known.  People familiar with Chen Ju-Yuan or Salvador Dalí or Tamara de Lempicka or Paula Rego or Andrew Wyeth aren’t acquainted with Michael Whelan.  He is not in the New York Museum of Modern Art, or the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

Vincent Di Fate’s superb and still indispensable survey Infinite Worlds is not on curators’ shelves.

The Riverside Art Museum is a pioneer in staging an exhibit of a leading S-F artist.

I went to the opening-night reception.  Here’s the banner outside the front door.  You’ll recognize the striking 1984 cover illustration for Asimov’s Robots of Dawn.

Whelan seems to have adopted the term alternative realism; see it on the banner.  It suits him.  It may be a good name for the mode of which he is such a master.  The greater the reality, the better the fantasy is elemental to S-F.

I found him surrounded by admirers – which was as it should be – wearing a Revolver necktie and answering questions.  When I remarked on the tie, a man said “Oh yes, old Beatles.”  I said “Old-fashioned is old-fashioned.”

The Museum has done well by him.  A gallery of 1,560 square feet (146 square meters) displays 54 pieces, some time-honored, some new.

The exhibit, and a Kickstarter commemorative book, are called Beyond Science Fiction.  This may be wise.

Before I went, I winced.  Did we need another apology?  Another variation on Robert Conquest’s theme “‘S-F’s no good,’ they bellow till we’re deaf.  ‘But this is good.’  ‘Well, then, it’s not S-F”?

Looking at the pictures I saw a different perspective.

Most of them were book covers (I’ll get to “palette gremlins” in a moment).  They were, they had to be, indeed they were proudly illustrations.  Whelan is an illustrator.

Kelly Freas would never let himself be named anything else; he declined artist (over my protest, among others), and viewed with suspicion what he more or less privately called “easel painters”.

Of course an illustration has to illustrate – which means shed light on.  It had better be good art – but what’s that? not that it means nothing: we’d not keep using it if we thought it meant nothing: but it’s fiendishly difficult to get a grip on.  Kelly Freas (that was his surname, folks) used to say an illustration has to make you want to read the story.

Superficial?  Maybe so, in a way.  If you think it’s only superficial, think again.

The best illustration (1) satisfies the illustrator (2) satisfies the author (3) sheds light on the story (4) makes people want to read the story – and, if you will, (5) makes the publisher think it will make people want to read the story.

Down that road is the possibility that the very best illustration, in addition to and without in the least failing (1-4) or (1-5), may also reach people who run into it apart from the story, have never heard of the story, don’t know there is a story, don’t know the picture they’re looking at is an illustration.

Does that necessarily follow?  I don’t know.  Ask again later.  But it came to me from pictures at an exhibition.

Of course read and story needn’t be literal.  A Kelly Freas picture was used by the band Queen.  Whelan pictures have been used by the Jacksons and by Meat Loaf.

In that sense I applaud the title Beyond Science Fiction.  Yes, maybe it’s a lure, maybe a needed lure to draw people who might not otherwise – I’ll say it – dare to come here and look.  Also I think it says These images are science fiction; certainly they are; we don’t hesitate [I hope] to say so; in addition to which and not failing it in the least they reach farther and are worthy for themselves.

That’s why they’re in the Riverside Art Museum.

I said I’d get to “palette gremlins”.  They are – I’ll quote Whelan,

small creations found in random shapes … errant fingerprints and paint smears … usually on a palette or the mat board I use to protect my drawing table….  I added a touch here and a brush stroke there until the abstract elements began to resolve….  Passage: The Red Step was suggested by shapes in the over-spray left from a complex airbrushing session….  when they spark an idea that leads to a larger work, it feels like a gift from my Muse!…  The point of it all, however, is to play with some paint – and see what happens.

One wall has a dozen.  One of them, Amethyst Fantasy, I saw was lent by Shaun Tan.

You know some of the pictures.  You have books they cover, or prints, or Infinite Worlds or one of Whelan’s own books – which I recommend – or you can summon them from Electronicland.  See the originals.  See them often and long.  Each medium is different.

Study originals.  Go to this exhibit if you can.  Bring what you have with you and compare.  Bring a sketchbook and copy them, or an easel (in a good cause, Kelly) and a paintbox; get permission.  Beethoven wrote out a Mozart string quartet; he was perfectly able to read the score, and he intended to write his own music, but he wanted to get into his fingers what Mozart had done.

And if you ask “What has Whelan done for us lately?” cast a Cottleston on this, “In a World of Her Own” from 2016.

Cottleston pie, that’s your eye – no, wrong slang – wait, I’ll have it in a minute – wait –

Whelan Exhibit at Riverside Art Museum

The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) presents Beyond Science Fiction: The Alternative Realism of Michael Whelan, curated by Baby Tattoos’ Bob Self, from February 11–May 25. The exhibit will launch with a free, open-to-the-public Opening Reception on Saturday, February 11 from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m which will be attended by artist Michael Whelan.

Beyond Science Fiction is the world premiere exhibition of major works by artist Michael Whelan.

Whelan is one of the world’s premier painters of imaginative or alternative realism. For 40 years, he has created book and album covers for authors and musicians like Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Anne MacCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Melanie Rawn, Michael Moorcock, the Jacksons, and Meatloaf. His clients have included every major U.S. book publisher, CBS Records, the Franklin Mint, and many more.

As the most honored artist in Science Fiction, Whelan has won an unprecedented 15 Hugo Awards, three World Fantasy Awards, and 13 Chesleys from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. The readers of Locus Magazine have named him Best Professional Artist 30 times in their annual poll and the Spectrum Annual of the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art named him a Grand Master in 2004. Other noteworthy awards include a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, a Grumbacher Gold Medal, and the Solstice Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. In 2009, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

RAM is holding two youth art education classes in conjunction with the exhibition. Fantasy Dragons on March 4 will tour the exhibit and then create their own fantasy dragon based on surrealism. The Art of Illustration is on March 25, where students will be asked to bring in their favorite science fiction book and they will create the cover of their own sci-fi novel after a tour of Beyond Science Fiction. For ages 6 and up, you can sign up here . Scholarships are available.

The museum, located in Riverside, California is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 12:00 noon – 4:00 p.m.

[Based on a press release.]

 

Pixel Scroll 11/28/16 As Some Day It May Happen That A Pixel Must Be Found, I’ve Scrolled A Little List

(1) NOM DE GLOOM. Turns out nobody will ever voyage to Alpha Centauri – because the astronomical equivalent of the post office has given it a change of address – “Alpha Centauri Gets a New Moniker as 227 Star Names Are Clarified”.

Alpha Centauri” is getting the boot. The longstanding star name has been displaced by its ancient counterpart in a new International Astronomical Union (IAU) catalog that designates 227 official names for different stars in the sky.

The move was intended to reduce confusion, according to the IAU. For instance, a star like Fomalhaut has at least 30 different names, so it’s difficult to figure out what to call it — or even how to spell it. Variations over the years have included Fumalhaut, Fomalhut and even the unusual Fomal’gaut.

The IAU, which is the official arbiter of astronomical names, chose single names to refer to those stars that have historically had many. Some of the decisions may rattle longtime observers, however. For example, the binary star Alpha Centauri, which lies 4.35 light-years from the sun, is now known officially as “Rigil Kentaurus,” the ancient name for the system.

(2) WHELAN ART PROJECT. Michael Whelan has a Kickstarter going for a new book with Baby Tattoo. The book is being published to coincide with an exhibition of Michael’s art at the Riverside Art Museum in Southern California in February.

It’s actually done very well already – the target was $10,000, and $54,056 has been raised with 22 days to go.

whelan-beyond

(3) DON’T SPOON FEED THE AUDIENCE. Misha Burnett made a good point in a comment at Mad Genius Club.

I think that “overbackstorying” is one of the signature literary sins of our age. During the after-film discussion with my roommate after we had we had seen “Dr. Strange” the subject came up of filmmakers not trusting audiences to pick up on subtleties.

I can just imagine a remake of “Citizen Kane”.

“Come in now, young man–you can’t stay out there with your new sled, which is called ‘Rosebud’ all day!”

“But I love my new sled, which is called Rosebud! No matter what happens for the rest of my life, this will be the moment I’ll remember on my deathbed!”

(4) YOU CAN TALK TO THE HORSE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY OF COURSE. Fantasy Faction reposted Aaron Miles’ insightful article “A Question of Technology”.

How fantasy elements interact with technology is another aspect of worldbuilding to consider. Necessity is the mother of invention, the creation of a tool to aid in a task. But when you have characters that can make it rain at will, it seems pointless to dig ditches for irrigation. Does your world have magical solutions instead of technological ones, how prevalent is magic and its availability in solving daily problems? The opposite can be true as well, does your world have technological solutions to magical problems? Has a castle population built giant net launchers and long range crossbows to help defend themselves from dragon attacks? Perhaps they’ve developed fire resistant armour and building materials. This is an example of the necessity point in action, it’s human nature to try and counter a hostile force. In a world ruled by magic users, perhaps a resistance has created mechanical devices that negate their powers; maybe your heroes need them to complete a quest?

The level of technology in your work can influence the plot and what kind of solutions the writer can present to their characters. Is a character sick or injured? Is there a medical cure, it is easily available or a rarity? What about travel, does your world have domesticated horses, are there paved roads that allow them to make good time?

(5) WISHLIST OF A FAN’S DREAMS. Corrina Lawson made a list of “Fictional Presents We’d Love to Receive This Holiday Season” for B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Translation Microbe (Farscape) Lots of translation devices pop up in science fiction universes, including the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but you have to stick that leech-like thing in your ear. Ew. The Translation Microbe from Farscape also has to be sent into the body (via injection), rooting itself at the base of the brain. But it’s painless, aside from the initial injection, and there’s nothing living in your head. As for Star Trek‘s universal translator? That’s a machine that can be lost or destroyed, and you don’t want to be caught out as a stranger in a strange land.

(6) ATKINS OBIT. Lon Atkins (1942-2016) has died. Guy Lillian III sent this tribute about the legendary fan.

Lon Atkins, lost either yesterday or just this morning, was a titan in our Southern fannish world. His Rebel Award, his Fan GoHship at the DSC, were beautiful if finally inadequate reflections of his contribution to our early days as a regional fandom and our growth into the vibrant and important segment of SFdom we’ve become.  He was Official Editor of SFPA for four years and kept it going through its slimmest days.  His fabled battles at the Hearts table with his great frtiend Hank Reinhardt were not only legendary, but entertaining, helping to build the sense of community that marks the region and its game.  He did the best apazines — the best-written, the best-reproed, the most comprehensive — I have ever seen.  And he was a gentleman.

I am lost in regret.  Lon was a mentor and a model for how a good man conducts himself in science fiction fandom.  MELIKAPHKAZ forever!

(7) JIM C. HINES RESUMES FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS. He took a few days off for the holiday, but Jim C. Hines today is taking bids on an autographed, personalized series from Sherwood Smith.

Welcome back to the third of 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions.

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.

Auction number three is for a personally autographed hardcover set of either the  INDA or DOBRENICA series, by author Sherwood Smith. Sherwood is also willing to personalize the books if the donor wishes — doodles, notes about something they’re interested in on the text, etc.

(8) FOR THOSE WHO COULD NOT MAKE IT IN PERSON. The exhibit ended its local run yesterday, and will be moving on to other cities. Steve Weintraub has done his best to show Collider readers what they missed — “Over 150 Pictures from the Cool & Unusual ‘Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters’ LACMA Exhibit”.

As you’ll see in the pictures below, not only will you notice things from his films like Cronos, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and Crimson Peak, you’ll see the 1907 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, original Moebius artwork, original comic book pages from Alan Moore’s From Hell, concept art from films like Walt Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, James Cameron’s Aliens, Drew Struzan’s poster for Pan’s Labyrinth, his love of all things Dracula, Frankenstein, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, and so much more.

Since most people will never be able to check out the At Home with Monsters exhibit, while walking around I took a ton of pictures. Even though I snapped over 150 high-resolution pics, trust me when I say I didn’t come close to capturing everything there and if you’re near the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Minneapolis Museum of Art when the exhibition opens in either city, I strongly suggest stopping by and seeing it for yourself.

(9) WORLD FANTASY PROGRAM. From Tor.com we learn that the 2017 World Fantasy Con is gathering program ideas. The convention’s theme is Secret Histories – The Use of History in Fantasy. Use their online form.

(10) THE MAGICIANS ON SYFY. This is no fantasy. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians returns for Season 2 on January 25.

(11) THE HOLE YOU SAY. Cards Against Humanity raised over $100,000 on Black Friday by broadcasting a video of a giant hole and asking its users to throw the money in!

This has raised a lot of questions in NPR’s newsroom, some of which Cards Against Humanity endeavored to answer on its site:

What’s happening here?

Cards Against Humanity is digging a holiday hole.

Is this real?

Unfortunately it is.

Where is the hole?

America. And in our hearts.

Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?

No.

What do I get for contributing money to the hole?

A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?

Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?

Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Is the hole bad for the environment?

No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.

How am I supposed to feel about this?

You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.

How deep can you make this sucker?

Great question. As long as you keep spending, we’ll keep digging. We’ll find out together how deep this thing goes.

(12) JONATHAN LIVINGSTON YODA. CinemaBlend makes sure were there when a “Star Wars Bad Lip Reading Video Turns Empire Into Hilariously Funky Seagull Song”.

The folks at Bad Lip Reading have produced some stellar videos over the course of the last few years, but this one might actually be their magnum opus. Reimagining Luke Skywalker’s time with Yoda on Dagobah, the video follows the mismatched pair as the ancient Jedi master sings to a clearly annoyed Luke. Using the speech of the Yoda puppet as a template, the video features a voiceover that replaces the wise teachings of the alien warrior with utter nonsense about seagulls, logs giving birth to sticks, and getting hit in the neck with a hacky sack. It’s undoubtedly one of the weirdest Star Wars related videos that we have ever seen on the Internet, but it’s also that weirdness that makes it so utterly awesome.

 

[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Guy H. Lillian III, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Spectrum 20 Award Finalists

Spectrum 20 Jury & Directors: Tim Bruckner, Mark A. Nelson,
Irene Gallo, Michael Whelan, Cathy Fenner, Tim Kirk, and Arnie Fenner.

The Spectrum 20 Award jury members Tim Bruckner, Irene Gallo, Tim Kirk, Mark A. Nelson, and Michael R. Whelan evaluated over 6,000 entries before selecting 40 finalists for this year’s edition of the Spectrum Fantastic Art Annual.

Founded in 1993 by Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner, Spectrum: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art is among the most respected art showcases, covering a wide range of disciplines. It is the only “art annual” with categories devoted to comics, concept art, and sculpture.

Judging was completed March 2. Their selection of the year’s best fantastic art will appear in Spectrum 20, scheduled for October release in both hardcover and softcover from Underwood Books. Gold and silver medal winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony during Spectrum Live, a weekend long celebration of fantastic art, in Kansas City, May 17-19. The Spectrum Grand Master Award will also be presented during the ceremony, which will be held in the historic Midland Theater.

The gold and silver finalists are:

Advertising

  • Craig Elliott:ForestAwakening
  • Michael C. Hayes: Procession
  • Android Jones: Ganeshatron
  • Greg Ruth: Three Outlaw Samurai
  • Dan DosSantos: Dragon Empress

Book

  • Brom: Wipi
  • William O’Connor: Wargriffin
  • David Palumbo: Fed
  • Shaun Tan: Never Leave a Red Sock on the Clothesline
  • Charles Vess: Tanglewood: I Didn’t Know She Was a Bottle Witch

Comics

  • Jennifer L. Meyer: Aesop’s Ark,Ch. 2, P2
  • David Petersen: Mouse Guard Black Axe #4, Page 19
  • Paolo Rivera: Daredevil #10
  • Paolo Rivera: Captain America #1
  • João Ruas: Fables #121

Concept Art

  • Daniel Dociu: Guild Wars 2, Norn Lodge
  • Theo Prins: Southsun Cove
  • Paul Sullivan: Franken-animal
  • Justin Sweet: Marauders 2
  • Allen Willams: Tree of Tales

Dimensional

  • Dan Chudzinski: Turbulence
  • David Meng: Sashimi
  • Virginie Ropars: Mothra
  • Virginie Ropars: Acanthopis III
  • Katya Tal: Blanket Fairy

Editorial

  • Sam Bosma: Stability
  • Chris Buzelli: Book Monster
  • Sean Andrew Murray: He’s Gone Full-Bird
  • Victo Ngai: Best of the Best
  • Sam Weber: Cancer Monster

Institutional

  • Ed Binkley: A Cob of Chiseldon-Brimble
  • Lucas Graciano: Dragon Swarm
  • Tyler Jacobson: Ruric Thar, The Unbowed
  • Kekai Kotaki: Stampede
  • David Palumbo: Taken

Unpublished

  • Cory Godbey: The Fish Master
  • Lucas Graciano: Guardianship
  • Kekai Kotaki: Ride
  • Andrew Mar: Tell-Tale Heart
  • Tohru Patrick Awa: Sudden Shower